Accelerating the introgression of enhanced stem solidness from tall wheatgrass to spring wheat

This research fulfills an important need to develop wheat lines with novel sources of stem solidness, which may increase the stability of stem solidness expression across diverse environments and reduce the undesirable effects of stem solidness on other traits in red spring wheat.

  • Term:  3 years, beginning 2019

  • Funding Amount: $ 143,175

  • Lead Researcher(s): Dr. Pierre Hucl (University of Saskatchewan)

  • Funding Partners: Alberta Wheat Commission; Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture -Agriculture Development Fund (ADF)

Project Description

Economic yield losses in hollow-stemmed wheat varieties can reach up to US$350-400 million annually under heavy infestation of the wheat stem sawfly. This research fulfills an important need to develop wheat lines with novel sources of stem solidness, which may increase the stability of stem solidness expression across diverse environments and reduce the undesirable effects of stem solidness on other traits in red spring wheat.

The research team will explore a new germplasm source of solidness through the evaluation of solid-stemmed lines selected over three generations, which were derived from the intergeneric cross of Crocus (red spring wheat)/ Orbit (tall wheatgrass). Based on preliminary results, the intergeneric lines have shown stable stem solidness, greater than that of AAC Concord CNHR wheat and similar to that of CDC Fortitude, one of the few registered solid-stem durum cultivars currently grown in Western Canada. This opens the possibility to identify new genes, and DNA markers responsible for the accumulation of pith in the stem, and the potential to develop new solid stem wheat varieties, which will allow for earlier and more efficient identification of candidate individuals that possess the desire trait.

The new solid stemmed germplasm developed in this project will benefit the wheat breeding entities and wheat producers. The intergeneric lines are also of interest for other desirable resistance genes (salinity, drought and disease), in addition to stem solidness, and can help support future breeding efforts for these other traits.